Holiday Capacity Will Be Up –
MAX Issues Notwithstanding
Remember the dire warnings last spring that this would be the summer of chaos at airports, due to the grounding of the 737 MAX?
Now we can likely expect more veneer reporting, warning about how seats will be tight this holiday season, due to the constantly-extended grounding of 737 MAX aircraft.
Here’s the data. Between November 1 and December 31, there will be 4.3% more seats departing U.S. airports – and that’s well ahead of the current 3.6% growth rate for 2020.
True, the four carriers in the USA that are on the MAX order list are taking a hit to potential revenue, not to mention the benefits of lower operating costs, with the 737s being parked across the country.
But American and United have continued with the rest of their fleet plans, which has included additional A-319s, as well as adding more E-175s and outsourcing their operations to entities such as Mesa and SkyWest.
Southwest is in a more difficult situation. They don’t have any outsource partners, as do AA and UA. Plus, most of the available used 737-700s across the world have been already picked clean. Until the MAX is cleared for operations, WN will be looking at highest-and-best use alternatives, such as they did in cutting EWR from their route map.
But what needs to be kept in mind is that the U.S. air transportation system is not being as dreadfully affected as it might appear due to the absence of 737 MAX airliners.
The difference between cancelling flights and not scheduling them in the first place continues to confuse some corners of the Fourth Estate.